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Healthy Tips

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CARING FOR YOUR TEETH AS A SENIOR

Taking care of your teeth and gums as you get older can prevent problems like toothaches, tooth decay (cavities), and tooth loss. A healthy mouth also makes it easier for you to eat well and enjoy food.

It's especially important to take care of your teeth and gums if you have a health condition like diabetes or heart disease — or if you're taking medicines that can cause oral health problems.

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WATCH FOR CHANGES IN YOUR MOUTH

Your risk of getting oral cancer increases as you get older. If you see any changes in your mouth, it’s important to get them checked out.

See a doctor or dentist if you have any of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks:

  • A spot in your mouth, lip, or throat that feels uncomfortable or sore

  • A lump or thick area in your mouth, lip, or throat

  • A white or red patch in your mouth

  • Trouble chewing, swallowing, or moving your jaw or tongue

  • Numbness in your tongue or mouth

  • Swelling in your jaw

  • Pain in 1 ear without hearing loss

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BUILD HEALTHY HABITS

  • Eat healthy and cut down on sugary foods and drinks. This can help prevent tooth decay — and it’s good for your overall health.

  • Don't smoke or use other tobacco products. Smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or using snuff puts you at higher risk for oral cancer. Smoking also increases your risk for gum disease.

  • If you smoke, make a plan to quit. If you’re not sure where to start, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free help.

  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation — that means 1 drink or less in a day for women and 2 drinks or less in a day for men. Heavy drinking increases your risk of oral cancer.

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